I haven’t seen the broadcast yet, so I can only say that it is very good for the sport as a whole, and potentially good for the sport in Northeast Florida, to have Olympic gold medalists and current US National Team members here in Jacksonville talking about wrestling.
Guest clinicians Andrew Bisek and Nick Alvarez, along with 2000 Olympic heavyweight Greco-Roman champion Rulon Gardner, appeared on WJXT-Channel 4’s morning show (if I recall correctly) at 8:45 a.m. to talk about the sport in advance of the BTS clinics that start tonight for parents and coaches only at Murray Middle School in St. Augustine and pick back up again on Saturday morning with the Champions Clinic, again at Murray MS, and then the gala Saturday night in Jacksonville Beach. I’ve provided links in earlier posts for those, I’d refer you to the BTS-NEFLA website for those.
At the same time, while I’m glad that these events are here — and I hope they continue — what is just as needed, if not more so, is a regular presence for the sport in the local media. At the same time that one-off appearances with cute kids and/or elite current or former wrestlers provides a much-needed spotlight, what the TV stations need to do is SHOW UP at tournaments and highlight duals during the course of the season. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen one TV station hit #UncivilWar, and that was in 2014. There were no televised highlights in 2014-15, of ANY event. During the regular season, my coverage for the T-U was all it had. I am doing my best to cultivate relationships in order to change that, but I am only one person. I don’t have connections, an unlimited budget, or unlimited amounts of other resources.
What is also needed is greater participation in off-season work. Can’t stress that enough. I don’t know that the BTS clinicians would absolutely agree with me, but I’m pretty confident — even though I’ve never competitively wrestled a day in my life — that they would.
There’s a reason that Flagler Palm Coast, Clay and Fleming Island stand head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the coverage area. They go most of the year, with only short breaks. The result? In-season success and an ability to keep up with South Florida and the CFWA/Westside WCs and the like. Think those teams stop? The hardware they’re earning at states, and the accolades they’re picking up in the off-season (national rankings, Division I scholarships and an overall improvement in how Florida is viewed nationally) should tell you otherwise.
If your coach is not conducting off-season workouts, that’s no reason to stop once your season does. BTS is doing it out in Keystone Heights, but there are also multi-school clubs found in several places a little bit closer — River City Wrestling Factory, Duval Wrestling Academy, Pin N Win, Jacksonville Bulldogs, Knights Attack out in Oakleaf Plantation, Monsta in Lake City/Columbia County and there’s probably others I’m forgetting — all have off-season presence.
If you aren’t wrestling for your HS coach or for a club in the offseason, you will fall behind those who are. And that’s true regardless of who comes here, or what media takes notice.